stevegsltsz

My blog, my thoughts and my musings!


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Programmer Facing Paralysis Develops Revolutionary New Software

38-year-old computer programmer Gal Sont is developing revolutionary new software to aid disabled people in communication, even as he faces paralysis himself.

Sont suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS – alternately known as ‘Lou Gehrig’s  Disease’), which he was first diagnosed with in 2009.

Due to this disease, the neurons that govern voluntary movement (located in the brain and spinal cord) are slowly dying out, which means that Gal is likely to eventually suffer from ‘locked-in syndrome’, a cruel affliction wherein the mind is aware and conscious, but the body is completely unable to move or speak (usually only the eyes are voluntarily controlled).

Tragically, there is no known cure for this condition.

When Sont (who, even today, can only stand when aided – and only for a few seconds at a time) met other people suffering with similar disabilities, he found that they were increasingly resorting to expensive (and often-inefficient) computer setups in order to help them better communicate with the outside world.

“I came to realize that these people first of all don’t understand the potential, what technology can do for them, they use all kinds of different equipment which was very expensive, and as I know technology I didn’t understand why they were so expensive”, Sont told BBC News earlier this week.

“So I decided to build the best and fastest on-screen keyboard, then when combined with the camera, it gives you a very cheap and very good communication solution… accessible for all people, not only the rich.”

Sont and his best friend Dan Russ are business partners in the Las Vegas, Nevada, USA-based start-up company Click2Speak, which aims to create a fast, efficient and accurate on-screen keyboard (created by Sont –using only his eyes) in order to aid people with physical disabilities. The driving force behind the invention is to create an affordable product that is better than anything else available right now.

Click2Speak makes use of an ingenious eye-tracking camera that allows the user to control the cursor on a screen, or click buttons on a virtual keyboard, simply by looking at them. Clicks can be made using a foot pedal, or by holding one’s gaze on a specific part of the screen. Gal’s computer makes full use of his Click2Speak software and he is able to control his entire desktop (including email, Skype, video games and, perhaps most importantly, the creation of code – the way in which he makes his living) using only his eyes.

Click2Speak is fully integrated with the SwiftKey Smartphone app, which is timesaving software that creates complete suggestions for half-typed words, based on the user’s previous word use. Essentially, the software grows easier to use the more it is utilized and this is a major part of Click2Speak’s design.

As his illness progresses, Sont will be using his own software more and more to communicate with his family, friends and business colleagues.

Gal Sont was born in Israel in 1976 and was fascinated by computers since getting his first Commodore 64 aged 8. He married his school sweetheart, with whom he has two daughters and has subsequently spent 20 years working as a computer programmer. He is also a big sci-fi/fantasy fan and he used to enjoy outdoor activities such as kite surfing, motor biking and riding roller coasters.

By nature a proud man, Gal cherishes his independence and it is this desire to remain self-sufficient that has motivated him to create such an affordable software option for others facing similar hardships.

“I never asked for help from anyone my whole life, it was my wife and I against the world, but now I need help and assistance, and it’s not too much fun to ask all the time for others to help you (…) If you can buy a communication device by yourself without begging others to help, this is also very, very good. So I hope the people out there who hear about our software and the keyboard, will be able to use it, save money and time, and live their life.” He says.

It is clear that Sont’s miraculous mind will prove to be a life preserver, not only for himself, but also for thousands of others around the world.

“Your communication is the basis of everything, to tell someone you love them, to ask for something to drink, it is the basic need of every one of us: to communicate with my family and friends and tell them all that I need, in words. So communicating is very important, and if I can do it faster and more efficient, you know, I’ve won the world.”

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28041743

http://www.click2speak.net/category/our-journey

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New Yorkers Return $40,000 Found In Second Hand Couch

Every now and then a news story comes along that simultaneously lifts the spirits and restores one’s faith in Humanity. This is one of those stories.

You know how sometimes you find money down the back of your sofa cushions? Well…

Three students in New York City bought a second-hand couch from a charity shop for $20.00 and discovered an astonishing $40,000 in cash (that’s about £24,000, in case you were wondering) tucked away in several envelopes that were nestled between the cushions.

Reese Werkhoven, one of the discoverers of this hidden fortune, said, “The most money I’d ever found in a couch was like fifty cents. Honestly, I’d be ecstatic to find just $5 in a couch,”

After finding $40,000, he must have been positively delirious. In and of itself, that would be an amazing story, but here’s the REALLY amazing part; the three friends actually tracked down the rightful owner of the money and gave it back.

New Yorkers (well, they live in New Paltz, just North of the city, so ‘New Paltzers’ is probably more appropriate), Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo found a mysterious name on one of the envelopes and decided to try and return the cash.

“We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to…It’s their money, we didn’t earn it” said Ms. Guasti.

When they tracked down the rightful owner of the cash, it turned out to be an elderly woman’s life savings. The woman’s daughter had donated the couch while her mother was in hospital awaiting surgery and was completely unaware that her mother’s life savings were hidden inside it.

The woman (who did not want her identity revealed, for fairly obvious reasons) said that she had been saving the money for many years.

Her husband had given her some funds to put away each week before he sadly died of a heart condition. She had continued to stash the money in his stead and, over several years, had amassed the small fortune discovered by the three friends.

Ms. Guasti said that the old woman believed that the discovery of the money by three honest and caring people was her husband’s way of looking out for her. She said that she felt it was “supposed to happen”.

For their troubles, the widow gave out $1,000 for the friends to share.

I don’t know about you, but that one brought a tear to my eye! See, its not all doom and gloom. Not even students are all bad! 

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-27429911

http://thelittlerebellion.com/index.php/2014/05/new-paltz-students-find-40k-in-a-couch/

 


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2wayradioonline.co.uk Explains How 2 Way Radios Work

To put it simply, a two way radio similar to that sold by 2wayradionline.co.uk is a device that can both receive and transmit voice messages. In broader terms, it can be said that most wireless communication, and it may include cellular systems, fall under the definition. However, these days, 2 way radio is a term to describe radio system for group call communication. The two way radio comes in several technical names such as Public Access Mobile Radio, Private Mobile Radio, Land Mobile Radio and Professional Mobile Radio. These present times, 2 way radios are often called “walkie talkies”. There are several kinds of two way radio systems and some are able to make use of base and mobile configuration, while some re able to utilize a radio network infrastructure.

A typical 2 way radio includes a PTT button, also known as Push-To-Talk button. The button activates the transmitter and the user simply needs to talk to the device to start communicating. The user must release the PTT button in order to receive transmissions from the other line.

A two way radio is able to communicate with other radio devices. However, direct radio communication has very limited range. To overcome the problem, a radio network infrastructure may be used to extend the range of communications. The rest of the article is going to cover more details about how 2 way radios work and other useful information.

Receiving Radio Waves

Just like other forms of Wireless communications, a 2 way radio sends messages over the air. In order to achieve this, the antenna of a way radio contains a specific set of electrons. If the two way radio features multiple channels, then there is specific sets of electrons are each channel. Whenever a radio transmission is received by the 2 way radio, the electrons get excited. The electrons then create electrical impulses. Electrical impulses are then sent to a small processor, which will then convert the electrical impulses to words and sounds that can be understood by humans. The sounds are produced by the speakers within that the way radio.

Keep in mind that there are always radio waves are floating in the air. Because of it, there is always a nondescript sound that may be produced by the two way radios. To solve the issue, a lot of 2 way radios feature a “squelch” setting; and with it, the user can adjust the signal threshold for clearer communications.

Sending Transmissions

Two way radios can also send messages across the air. The main idea is to convert the sound to radio waves. However, the defining characteristic about the way radio is its ability the convert back the radio waves back to legible sounds.

Whenever a user speaks into a 2 way radio, a membrane within the device will vibrate as a response to the sounds. The vibrations are sent to the processor, which in turn converts them to electrical impulses and readies it for transmission.. Finally, the transmission is sent to the antenna which is then broadcasted in the form of radio waves. These radio waves are then received by another device and convert them back to a legible sound.

Multiple Channels

As two way radios are getting more and more popular, it is possible for more than one party communicating in the same line or frequency. This can cause a lot of confusion and interference. To solve the problem, modern 2 way radios are able to utilize multiple channels.

For a two way radio to broadcast on multiple channels, the device must be able to generate radio waves in multiple frequencies. Furthermore, the device must be able to send frequencies with very little fluctuations. These fluctuations are actually caused by the transmitted voices. The fluctuations can be minimized through “frequency modulation”. The modulated transmissions are then sent to the device’s antenna.

The device must also excite the proper electrons. Once the proper electrons are excited, an outgoing radio wave is then produced.

These radio waves may be picked up by another device tuning into the same frequency. Furthermore, the device must be within range of the transmitting device. The range of two way radio is usually determined by a couple of factors such as atmospheric conditions, radio’s battery power and the size of the two-radio’s antenna.

Whenever a device picks up the transmission, the receiving radio must filter the signals through an electronic filter known as a bandpass filter. Finally, the transmission is then converted back to sound.

Why Choose A 2 Way Radio

The two way radio is one of the earliest forms of wireless communication. However, in today’s modernized communication environment, a question arises – is the way radio a viable technology? The answer to that question is a yes. This is because the 2 way radio has its own unique advantages that may not be found in other forms of wireless communications. Below are two of them:

Instant Communication – the ability to communicate between two or more parties almost instantly is one of the most defining advantages of the two way radio. A user only needs to press the “Push-To-Talk” button and within seconds a receiver will be able to receive the audio messages. Furthermore, the entire system is set up around the idea of “quick call” and “quick receive”. This is the main reason why the organizations rely on the 2 way radio technology for operational and tactical communications. The system can also make use of encryption technology for a more secure communication.

Group Communications

Another unique advantage of two way radio is its ability to facilitate “group call” or “one-to-many” communications very efficiently. By efficient, it means that the user can communicate with one, hundreds or thousands at the same time. There is no need for a user to repeat the same message if he/she needs to communicate to more than one individual.

A 2 way radio is one of the earliest technologies used for wireless communications. Even though it is a bit outdated compared to other forms of wireless communications, but the usefulness is still very applicable today. The main idea of how 2 way radios work revolves around on sending and receiving radio waves, which in turn is converted to legible sounds. The idea and technology behind two way radio may be simple, but nevertheless it is still a very well-used form of communication in today’s world.


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A Frog in the Throat? Angler Catches More Than he Bargained For

Professional angler Angus James caught something genuinely amazing whilst fishing just North of Queensland, Australia last month.

What’s more, he also took a photo of it…

The Aussie had caught a pretty impressive jungle perch and was just snapping a couple of photos before releasing his catch back into the water. Suddenly, he saw something move at the back of the fish’s throat, so he leaned in closer to investigate.

“I thought it might have been grass at first. Then it blinked!” says James.

He admits that he was very shocked when he saw a live green tree frog staring back at him.

Thinking quickly, James snapped a photo “I always carry a camera, so I took the pic and then he jumps out!” said the fisherman, who was interviewed by News Limited of Australia earlier this week.

James posted the picture onto Facebook and the image immediately went viral. The snap is already being hailed as one of sport-fishing’s greatest-ever photos.

It was truly a chance encounter, but we imagine that the frog was probably even more pleased than Angus was.

When he’s not valiantly saving the lives of grateful amphibians in Australian rivers, Angus James works as a field angler for Tackle Tactics, a company that specializes in lure fishing and supplies equipment to enthusiasts throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. He is apparently somewhat surprised by how popular the photo has become.

“It has gone all around the world. So many people have shared it”, he says. “There’s people commenting on the photo in languages I don’t even understand”.

It is actually a very impressive feat that Mr. James was able to hold the fish in one hand, grab a camera in the other and snap a high quality (and in focus) picture of a live animal escaping the throat of another live animal. Perhaps he missed his calling?

We’ll tell you one thing, photography students of the world, no matter where you go, they just don’t teach that.

Perhaps the photo appeals also because people know the frog got away safely in the end. We don’t need to tell you that everyone likes an underdog (or, in this case, an underfrog), so that is probably part of it as well.

“Everyone keeps saying the frog got its second chance at life” says James.

Apparently, both the frog and the fish went their separate ways after the incident. At the time of writing, neither was available for comment.

SOURCES

https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/world-of-sport/astonishing-pic-fisherman-discovers-live-frog-throat-fish-081643969.html